Saturday, October 22, 2011

Seasons of Satisfaction and Sorrow

To my lovely followers who have asked or been curious about my memoir, here is a little slice pertaining to singleness. The title of this post is the title of the chapter in the book. As you might suspect, it's a bit lengthy, so I'll have to break it up into about four or so more little sections and post them periodically over the next few weeks. So, here goes: True story... :)

Unpublished Blog Entry (found in a journal three years later): March 2007, Age 24

“People tell me that I need to get married.

Ha! As if it were all that easy! The problem, I tell them, is that my single state isn’t entirely up to me (as though I were simply a finicky girl, turning up my nose to the dozens of amazing men fawning daily at my beautifully pedicured feet. Sadly, this was not the case...).

I spent my high-school and college-years with my mascara-enhanced eyes wide open for a potential boyfriend. I was my own perpetual project…ironing out my flaws, updating my style and incorporating the proper flirting techniques into my everyday habits (making it appear seamless, of course). I constantly went back and forth over the question as to the "cause" of my singleness—was it the way I looked, or my personality? This question haunted me for years, and thus, in my insecurity, I beat myself up over things I couldn’t control (my height that had me towering over 98% of guys my age, and a nose that I was convinced took up too much of my face).

Ironically enough, in the years since, I have received genuine complements on each one of the “flaws” I once considered a deterrent to would-be suitors. And you would think that encouragement would make me happy. No, it only frustrated me all the more. If those things aren’t it, what is it? What is wrong with me??????”

(In other words: "Why am I still single?")

Lies I Believed and Advice I Didn’t Take

Ever since I was 12 years old, people have been telling me that getting married would neither be a magic cure-all to my problems, nor a road to instant and fulfilling happiness (Hmmm, what does that say about our society that we can use the words instant and fulfilling in the same sentence without second thought?). Well-meaning adults would encourage me with trite little relationship statements like: “Two halves don’t make a whole!“ and “Make sure you are happy and complete in yourself first!” From youth leaders to college professors to extended relatives, I was bombarded with these words of wisdom...which, of course, increased with every passing lack of relationship year.

To me, each statement seemed terribly cliché and was easily shrugged off. Marrieds were getting the better end of the deal--I was sure of it. They were experiencing the joys of weddings, having a standing date for Saturday night, and of course, sex. Since I was void of all these things, I was convinced that this whole “Marriage won’t make you happy” thing was, indeed, a sham.

It wasn’t until last year that I actually believed it...

Counselling singles, I see two types of people when it comes to their thoughts on marriage: Those who look upon matrimony with bitterness, cynicism and disdain...and those absolutely desperate to walk down the aisle at any cost. The former have witnessed (and been screwed up by) their parents affairs, abuse or multiple marriages. They have seen the reality of marriage--its ugliness and all--and they want no part of it. The latter have faced rejection and fear they won’t measure up as a potential pick for spouse-hood (yet desire it all the more). For them, the idea of finally being accepted and chosen, would certainly be a dream come true.

The first group needs a revelation of Almighty God--the One who has the power to transform who we are and redeem our pasts. The second needs a revelation of Daddy God--the One who generously and graciously gives his children good gifts (they don't deserve) because he delights in their joy. Ultimately, though, both revelations are a journey in trust...

As the "counselee," that second one was my category. At 11 years old, it seemed I was ruined for singleness when I watched my oldest sister get married at the ripe age of 21. Jessica and her husband met in the fall of her freshman year of college...and were engaged to by the time she came home that Christmas. In my little middle-school mind, all the cues around me (the attention to the bride, the congratulations on such a “point of arrival…”) led me to conclude that my quest from that day forward was to look pretty...and start looking for my Husband. (Ick. I hate to see it written out like that, but that is exactly how I pictured it in my head. My Husband idol, with a capital H).

“You’ll find him when you’re not looking,” people would tell me in college (after first semester came and went without so much as a viable prospect). What does that even MEAN? Cruel, torturous irony is what it is! It's like how a friend once described to me how subtly pride can take over your life. Just when you start to think about how humble you are, you realize pride has hit you like a baseball bat to the back of the knees and has taken you down again. When it came to singleness, this Catch-22 situation seemed to be the story of my life. Every now and then, I would realize “Wow, I’m not looking anymore!” Just, of course, to turn around and remind myself what “happens” when I’m not looking. Suddenly, I’m aware of the unawareness of potential men in my life. Damn cycle starts all over again...

I wish I could say that I took the high road when it came to accepting my singleness. For many years, however, this was simply not so. Being the “heart on my sleeve” type that I am, it seems I let my disappointment slip to, well, just about everyone in my life. My mini quarter-life crises usually stemmed from this topic, and in my early twenties, I admit I wasn’t so classy in the way I expressed things (there is a little collection of things done or said out of impulse that I desperately wish I could erase from the minds of others…as well as my own).

Amazingly and thankfully, however, God’s incredible grace and wisdom completely transformed my view of singleness...and shut my self-pitying mouth. I see singleness quite differently now, but it took an unexpected and painful season to get me there...

To be Continued


1 comment:

  1. "This question haunted me for years, and thus, in my insecurity, I beat myself up over things I couldn’t control (my height that had me towering over 98% of guys my age, and a nose that I was convinced took up too much of my face)."

    Even as a guy, I can readily identify with the aspect of insecurities; my lanky, almost 6' 5" height, "tree-trunk" neck, and dimpled chin as examples.

    I would love to know how God helped you overcome this--looking forward to the next "Seasons of Satisfaction and Sorrow" installment!